When I came to New Haven as a Yale freshman five years ago, I had high expectations. I chose Yale for its academics, its campus community, and its reputation for public service, political advocacy and social justice activism. My Yale experience far surpassed my expectations, but it was my New Haven experience that most shaped my time as a student and that made this place my home.
As Ward 1 alder, I have the honor of representing you and about 4,000 other students and downtown residents in our local legislature. In 2011, I ran to represent students on the Board of Alders because I believed that, like residents of other neighborhoods, we have an integral role to play in shaping New Haven. Each year, thousands of Yale students choose to engage with the world beyond our campus through service, advocacy and community organizing. I took advantage of many of these opportunities — helping out at an early childhood care center, doing voter engagement and community organizing in low turnout neighborhoods, and working on local political campaigns, to name a few. These experiences changed my relationship to New Haven — as I became more connected to communities across the city, I stopped feeling like a visitor. New Haven became my city, too.
New Haven is a vibrant and diverse city, with so many strengths, as well as some serious challenges. My leadership on the Board of Alders has been driven by the commitment I made to you two years ago: to work collaboratively to take on our city’s deepest challenges in order to build the New Haven where we want to live. I’m running for re-election this fall because we’ve made real progress in the past two years, and so much more is possible in the next two.
I want to live in a New Haven where all young people have opportunities to thrive, so I have served as chair of the board’s Youth Services Committee, where I’ve led our Comprehensive Youth Agenda to establish a network of youth services and spaces to provide every young person with the resources they need to thrive. In my 18 months as chair, we’ve made real progress toward achieving this goal, advocated for more youth jobs and developed a $700,000 Youth Violence Prevention Grant initiative that is currently serving hundreds of young people citywide.
I want to live in a New Haven where no one lives in fear, so I’ve facilitated discussion about campus safety among the NHPD, the Yale Police and students, and advocated for real community-based policing citywide, with more walking beats and deeper relationships between officers and residents.
I want to live in a New Haven where government works for the people, so I supported the revision of our city charter to make our government more democratic and accountable, particularly to move from a fully appointed Board of Education to a hybrid board with some elected members and student representation.
I want to live in a New Haven where government is accessible and residents are engaged in the decisions that affect our lives, so I’ve created opportunities for substantive student involvement on issues that matter to us. I’ve collaborated on student-led policy initiatives, such as National Popular Vote legislation, and organized a series of charter revision discussions on campus, culminating in key student testimony to the Charter Revision Commission. I’ve sent regular email newsletters to keep students up to date and aware of opportunities to get involved in the legislative process, and held open office hours on campus each week to ensure that I’m available when you have questions or ideas you’d like to discuss with me.
As Yale students and New Haven residents, we have many opportunities to be part of positive change in our city and to make this place our home. It’s up to us to decide whether we see ourselves as visitors, just passing through, or whether we actually claim New Haven as our city, taking advantage of all it has to offer and using our power as residents to help change it for the better.
I’m running for re-election to continue fighting for that change. As your advocate and your neighbor, I hope you will join me in working to build the New Haven where we want to live.
Sarah Eidelson is a 2012 graduate of Jonathan Edwards College.